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January 7, 2019 2:30 PM, EST

Midwest States Launch Program to Address Truck Parking Issues

truck parking B Christopher — Alamy

A group of eight Midwestern states has launched a system to inform truckers about parking availability along interstate highways.

Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin launched the Trucks Park Here program on Jan. 4.

The program is a shared truck parking information management system that offers up-to-the-minute data on how many spaces are available at certain rest areas.

The states are represented by the Mid America Association of State Transportation Officials (or MAASTO) a regional association under the umbrella of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. (Illinois and Missouri are MAASTO members but are not participating in Trucks Park Here.)

The way the truck parking information management system (TPIMS) works, roadside message boards, smartphone apps and traveler websites disseminate information on how many truck parking spaces are available. Road signs throughout the states will display the number of miles until the nearest rest stop, as well as how many spaces are open at that rest stop.

“Safe, convenient parking is crucial for commercial drivers who spend long stretches of time on the road,” Kentucky Transportation Cabinet State Highway Engineer Andy Barber said. “TPIMS will help truckers locate open spaces in safe, appropriate lots found on popular travel corridors to discourage drivers from parking on highway shoulders, offramps or at abandoned facilities that can compromise safety and deteriorate roads.”

The system covers corridors important to freight movement that stretch through the Midwest, including interstates 70, 71, 94 and 80.

In Indiana, the system will include sites along I-65, I-69 and I-70. The state’s Department of Transportation Commissioner Joe McGuinness said that 1.5 billion tons of freight are transported through the state each year.

“With much of that freight moving through Indiana on our highways, providing real-time information to truckers on where to find safe parking at the end of their shifts is one of the most effective ways we can preserve safety for all motorists,” McGuinness said in a press release on Jan. 4. “INDOT is proud to join seven other states in making interstate travel safer across our region.”

Lack of available truck parking ranked No. 5 on the American Transportation Research Institute’s list of industry concerns. The list was released Oct. 29, but ATRI also published an analysis of truck parking in the MAASTO states last May. The research showed that 40% of drivers lost between 31 and 60 minutes every day because of truck parking issues. Truckers brushing up against their hours-of-service restrictions who cannot find an authorized parking space may park in unsafe locations, such as highway shoulders and ramps.

MAASTO Truck Parking Survey... by on Scribd

“A fatigued driver can be as much of a threat on the road as an intoxicated driver,” Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter said in INDOT’s press release. “Helping professional drivers make informed decisions of when and where they can safely park and rest helps make Hoosier roads safer for every motorist.”

The project is supported by a $25 million federal Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant and collective state funds. The grant was awarded in 2015, when the program was known as the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery program.

Other states have also begun to embrace efforts to address the issue of truck parking. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation issued a request for information from private sector companies on designing, building and operating truck parking facilities Nov. 20.

In the most recent round of BUILD grants, announced Dec. 11, the Wyoming Department of Transportation received $20 million to construct about 5.5 miles of passing lanes and two truck parking areas along a stretch of I-80.